Launching the MORECOVERY Project: a Research Initiative for the Recovery of Value Elements From Mine Water and Tailings Founded by the EIT RawMaterials of the EU
Ruiz Cánovas, Carlos
University of Huelva (Spain), Spain
The demand for raw materials, especially those that are on the list of critical raw materials created by the European Commission, is growing rapidly in EU and globally. At the same time, the amount of mine waste and side streams is increasing drastically, together with concerns related to the environmental impacts of mining. Mining industry can achieve more eco-efficient and selective raw material production by enhancing the utilization of side streams and mine waste. This development highlights the need for robust recovery methods and efficient removal of dissolved metals from mine water streams, while securing the surrounding environment and ecosystem. The evaluation of the applicability of removal and recovery technologies for a specific industrial case requires a systematic approach. The potential source materials have to be analysed, and suitable recovery processes examined and tested, first in laboratory scale, and then in larger scale in the field conditions. The development of the service providing an economically viable solution for hydrometallurgy and water treatment by covering a wide spectrum of investigation, from the lab-scale studies to pilot-scale application, is a subject of recently launched Morecovery project financed by EIT RawMaterials. Therefore, EIT RawMaterials partners Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), Finnish Minerals Group (FMG), Keliber, LTU Business, Savonia, University of Eastern Finland (UEF), University of Huelva (UHU) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) received funding for the new innovation project to develop modular recovery process services for hydrometallurgy and water treatment. The three-year project called Morecovery was launched in January 2019 in Helsinki, Finland, and is coordinated by GTK. The main objective of the project is to secure access to the critical raw materials for the EU, by developing a service package that enables the producers to carry out a nonaligned technical and economic analysis of the potential for recovery of these materials. To achieve the objective, the existing water treatment and hydrometallurgical pilot setup co-owned by GTK and Savonia will be modernized, and the piloting capacity combined with the lab-scale investigations offered by UEF, Savonia and GTK, creating a sound service package for hydrometallurgy and water treatment. As a result of the project, the use of secondary materials and side streams in raw material production will be enhanced. Environmental goals will be achieved through cleaner mine waters and decreased amount of extractive waste containing potentially harmful elements.